Hillsborough Co. School Board to hold emergency meeting after surge in COVID-19 cases
Image via AP.

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The school district has seen more than 600 cases of COVID-19 since it reopened last week.

The Hillsborough County School Board will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to address the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the district.

The meeting, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the School Board Auditorium, comes as the district reported 564 COVID-19 cases in the first week of school, made up of 336 students and 228 employees.

With weekend numbers now in, as of the start of Monday, the district has seen 661 reported cases, according to an online dashboard, including 549 students and 260 employees.

The number of COVID-19 cases has caused 5,599 students and 316 employees in Hillsborough County Public Schools to be kept in isolation or quarantine, as of Monday morning, according to a news release from the school district. Isolation refers to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, while quarantine refers to those who have had close contact with a positive case.

Board Members will meet Wednesday to discuss the impact of the high caseload and address the best ways to mitigate against the spread of the virus, including making face coverings mandatory for all students and staff. The board will allow one hour of public comment.

If the board decides to move forward with a mask mandate, the school district will join Alachua and Broward counties in rejecting Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ ban on requiring face coverings in schools ⁠— an act that could cost them.

Currently, the Hillsborough County School District has a mask mandate but provides parents with a choice to opt-out, essentially making for a mask-optional policy; a parallel Superintendent Addison Davis acknowledged in making the rule.

But, Davis went forward with the opt-out policy anyway, without many options.

The week before school started, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees signed a rule requiring schools to let parents or guardians “opt-out the student from wearing a face-covering or mask,” along with rules for COVID-19 symptoms, positives and exposures.

The State Board of Education also cleared an emergency rule prohibiting mask mandates in schools, after an order by DeSantis.

But, Alachua and Broward County school districts are pushing back, imposing mandatory masking requirements, leading the state to threaten withholding funds for noncompliance.

The Florida Department of Education is set to hold a second emergency Board of Education meeting about mask policies in schools at 4 p.m. Tuesday ⁠— a meeting that will likely impact how the Hillsborough County School Board proceeds.

The school districts risked cuts to funding, but the penalties didn’t play out quite as DeSantis’ original threat intended. DeSantis’ executive order threatened to cut school district budgets where mask mandates were issued. He walked that back later, saying he would only cut salaries for school board members and superintendents who implemented the requirements.

DeSantis is also facing pushback from parents of children with disabilities, who are suing over the required opt-out option.

The lawsuit filed by parents of students with disabilities claims preventing schools from enforcing mask requirements could be deadly for students with disabilities who are at high risk for illness, especially in children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The back-to-school COVID-19 cases come as Tampa Bay and Florida as a whole experience a surge from the delta variant. Hillsborough County alone has reported 10,920 new COVID-19 cases this week, with an average positivity rate of 23.1%. Pinellas County saw 6,434 cases of COVID-19 this past week and a positivity rate of 19.2%.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


  • Anna

    August 16, 2021 at 7:51 pm

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  • Edward Lyle

    August 21, 2021 at 10:14 am

    From deaths to hospitalization to just “cases”…

    People are not catching or being hospitalized due to the China Bio-Weapon Flu. What we are experiencing around the country is the result of weak minds being manipulated with fear and doom-n-gloom propaganda promulgated by the DemoKKKrats, their Media PACs, and Tony “Mengele” Fraudci.

    This is how it works… Weak minds and parents have been intentionally inundated with fear and death propaganda… then someone gets a typical seasonal flu or common cold and flips out (because of the propaganda) and runs to the hospital. The hospital gets a $28K increase per-patient coded with having the China Bio-Weapon Flu, so they code the person as having the China Bio-Weapon Flu for pure profit motives. Then the propagandists get more fraudulent data to support their propaganda campaign of Mass Manipulation and Compliance. It’s ALL about politics, power, and money… it always is.

    These maniacs celebrate killing millions of innocent babies (particularly in our communities of color) under the guise of “women’s” healthcare. What makes ANYONE think they give a rats’ rear-end about ANY of our children at ANY age?

    The China Bio-Weapon Flu Scamdemic is the most maniacal, heinous, and perversely-criminal political stunt pulled in our history. And many will burn in he// over it.

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